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Canada Drops Added Sugars from Proposed Changes to Nutrition Labeling

Jul 08, 2015

In regulations proposed last month, Canada aims to change a number of nutrition labeling requirements, as well as other labeling regulations, including ingredient declarations. Many proposed changes are similar to those proposed last year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but there also are important differences from current or proposed U.S. labeling.

In technical documents published last year, Health Canada, the agency responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, had explored the addition of a separate “added sugars” declaration, similar to that proposed by FDA, but this declaration was rejected in last month’s proposal. IDFA filed written comments with Canada last September, opposing any change to labeling added sugars.

The new proposal now addresses sugars content of foods in two ways. In addition to labeling the grams of sugars in the food, an additional percent Daily Value declaration would be required, with the percentage based on a Daily Value of 100 grams of sugar. Additionally, sugar ingredients would be grouped together in the ingredient list under the collective heading “sugars.”

“Although it’s not known how the Canadian decision will impact FDA’s thinking on its proposed requirement to label added sugars, we see this as a significant conclusion that should be strongly considered by U.S. regulators,” said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president for regulatory and scientific affairs. “Health Canada found the inability of analytical methods to distinguish between naturally occurring and added sugars would contribute to enforcement challenges, and cited U.S. research that shows consumers have a limited understanding of added sugars on a food package.”

Consistent Serving Sizes

The proposal would also require nutrition information to be based on a consistent serving size, similar to the U.S. Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC). Canada proposed a three-quarter cup serving size for ice cream and frozen desserts and a per piece or unit measurement for ice cream bars, cones and sandwiches.

The United States has suggested revisions to ice cream serving size on U.S. Nutrition Facts panel as well, changing from half a cup to one cup per serving. IDFA strongly opposes the proposed U.S. change, citing newer consumption data. IDFA believes revised density should be used, which would result in three-quarters of a cup as the common amount of ice cream usually consumed.

Other proposed labeling changes from Health Canada include:

  • Addition of potassium as a mandatory nutrient;
  • Labeling of color additives by their common and usual name, rather than a collective name;
  • A footnote at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts panel would be required to help consumers understand the declared percent Daily Values: “5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot”;
  • A new health claim for fruits and vegetables; and
  • Formatting changes to the Nutrition Facts panel, including reordering nutrients and larger calorie information.

The proposal recommends a five-year implementation date, which would help to reduce the economic burdens on food manufacturers and marketers that would be required to revise all labels on all products.

Comments on the proposal are due August 27, 2015. Canada’s Parliament will also have the chance to weigh in on the proposed changes. Following a review of all comments, Health Canada will issue a final update to the regulations. More detailed information on the Canadian proposal is available here.

For more information, contact Frye at

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